Lifelong Energy Transformation The Key Component to Health and Vitality

Since creation, human beings and plants have had a harmonious, interdependent relationship that requires the by-products or waste of energy metabolism from the other to generate energy. This exchange is ongoing and dynamic. An example of this is how animals use the oxygen created by plants, and plants use the carbon dioxide expelled by animals in respiration.

Energy is essential for life to exist. Every aspect of brain function, for example, depends on biochemical energy in some way or another. Mental functions like consciousness, memory and intellect are especially sensitive to small changes in energy metabolism. Acquiring, utilizing, and storing energy reserves (and other resources) is critical to lifetime reproductive success and survival. Renewed energy directly influences proper immune system responses and detoxification processes.

The Kidney, from both the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western physiology, is an important component of the human energy system. In TCM, energy or "vital essence" is stored in the Kidney. The Kidney is considered the deepest aspect within the human being and is referred to as the "Root, or Seed of Life" whereby genetic information is passed. Kidney function affects growth, development, degeneration and death. Therefore, health and longevity is centered in the care and balance of the kidney.

According to a Western model of physiology, the Kidney Energy Network can be viewed in relationship to the neuroendocrine system, which is rooted in the adrenal glands (storing energy reserve) or even the hypothalamus - the brain center. This includes all the endocrine glands - primarily the hormone secreting glands of the pituitary, adrenal, thyroid, parathyroid, pineal, and reproductive organs (ovaries in women and testes in men). The kidney is considered the most important system, both functionally and energetically speaking. Therefore, focusing on increasing its overall strength and helping its energy to flow harmoniously provides a foundation for disease inhibition within the energetic model of thinking.

Just about everyone I see in my practice has some disruption within their neuroendocrine system and stress is the largest contributing factor. Stress research was pioneered in part by Dr. Hans Selye, Ph.D, a Canadian professor, who is acknowledged internationally as the 'father of stress research'. One of Selye's most important contributions was his concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS), which he coined in 1936. The GAS involves a progression of three stages in the stress response beginning with the alarm reaction, then the resistance stage, and finally adrenal maladaptation or hypoadaptosis. The third stage is characterized by adrenal dysfunction and is considered the stage of exhaustion when the "energy of adaptation" is used up and the resistance of the organism becomes exhausted. In order to build up the adaptive capacity and enhance overall vitality, I most often recommend adaptogens. Adaptogens reduce stress reactions in the alarm phase, thereby delaying or avoiding the exhaustion stage.

Humans transfer energy through a pathway which phosphorylates (adds phosphate groups to) adenosine diphosphate (ADP) to form adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the universal carrier of energy. Ultimately, dietary fats, carbohydrates, and protein are potentially useful in producing the ATP molecule. (Though the ingestion of refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and trans-fatty acids are all major contributors to the exogenous causes of disturbances in the mitochondria, the cell pump and the key to the body's production of energy.) One of the many benefits of adaptogens is their ability to improve energy transfer by increasing ATP. ATP is produced in the mitochondrial membrane. The efficiency of the mitochondria is an important aspect of both the neuroendocrine and the free radical theories of aging. The efficiency of our Krebs cycle and respiratory chain mechanisms (stages of aerobic energy release) contributes to mitochondrial health and how well we are able to maintain higher levels of energy output as well as reduce energy waste. This in turn supports a more youthful state.

Anyone who has observed children knows that they are bundles of energy. But, as people get older their levels of fatigue increase and energy output declines. Energy dysfunction results in age-related diseases such as hypothyroidism, Parkinsons, cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression. Abnormal disruptions in the neuroendocrine system coupled with inefficient energy transfer are negative results of stress. Stress is directly related to a slow decline in health (aging), and its cumulative effects can be costly (disease). If imbalance continues for extended periods and becomes independent of maintaining adequate energy reserves, then symptoms of allostatic overload appear. Allostatic overload is a state in which serious alterations in pathophysiology can occur, such as hormonal disturbances, weight gain, and cognitive decline. It is also associated with many of the syndromes seen today such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and adrenal exhaustion. The concept of allostasis is to maintain stability through change as a fundamental process through which organisms actively adjust to both predictable and unpredictable events, or stressors such as extreme heat or cold, infection and pathogenic threats, physical trauma, and psychological/emotional threats. Energy efficiency, storage (reserve), and waste removal are together equally important when assessing allostasis.

The efficiency of energy transfer is critical for detoxification, lean muscle growth, immune regulation, as well cell repair and resuscitation. "Nutritional Companion Adaptogens" such as magnesium glycyl glutamine chelate, and creatine magnesium chelate are vital nutrients that participate in improving the transfer of cellular energy and the formation of coenzymes. They support antioxidant systems within critical biochemical pathways involved in all aspects of stress defense. Amino acids are used by immune cells for energy and support. One of the reasons why people feel tired when they are sick is because energy is transferred to the immune response. An adequate availability of certain amino acids like creatine, lipoic acid, arginine, carnitine, and PAK (B6) is important to enhance mitochondrial activity and to protect organs and tissues from catabolic (breaking down) processes. These anabolic (building up) compounds protect against oxidative stress, reduce free radical damage, improve strength, endurance, mental focus, and cardiovascular health. In addition, the chelated form of these nutrients makes them more bioavailable and easy for the body to utilize. Supplementing with these unique agents can offer the advantage many athletes are looking for and can greatly improve nutritional status for patients recovering from illnesses by enhancing quality and quantity of life.

Written by Donald Yance, CN, MH, AHG

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